St. Charles County Jury Returns Defense Verdict in First-Party Insurance Dispute05/04/2017
Plaintiffs Christopher and Jennifer Franklin had been out of town and returned home to find a foul odor in their home in Wentzville. Several hours after arriving at their house they discovered a stand-up freezer in the garage had lost power while they were away causing over 600 pounds of meat in the freezer to spoil. The odor from the rotted meat permeated the entire residence making the home unihabitable. The Franklins made a claim with their home owner's insurance company. The insurance company paid the Franklins in excess of $25,000 to have the home remediated including ozone treatments, thermal fogging, carpet cleaning and cleaning of all personal goods. Despite acknowledging that the odor was gone after the remediation efforts were complete, several months later the Franklins contacted their insurance company and advised that they had not returned to the property, that the odor remained in the home, and that that home was a total loss needing to be knocked down and rebuilt. The insurance company re-inspected the home and was unable to detect any foul odor. However, given the Franklins' persistence, the insurance company hired an industrial hygenist to test and assess the air quality in the home. Even after the air quality testing revealed no abnormal chemicals or odors, the insurance company offered further repairs to the Franklins which were declined. The Franklins ultimately filed suit for breach of contract claiming the house and all personal property were a total loss. The Franklins additionally sought damages for vexatious refusal to pay. The case was tried to a St. Charles, Missouri jury which returned a verdict in favor of the insurance company after less than an hour of deliberation.